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MGM

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Sylvester Stallone
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone, Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Burgess Meredith, Tony Burton, Joe Spinell
Writing Credits:
Sylvester Stallone

Tagline:
The Rematch Of The Century.

Synopsis:
It's the rematch of the century as Rocky Balboa takes on Apollo Creed in this powerful follow-up to one of the most acclaimed movies in film history. Writer-director-star Sylvester Stallone succeeds in creating a powerful feel-good movie hailed as "a stunning effort in every way" (New York Post). After club fighter Rocky Balboa (Stallone) goes the distance with the world heavyweight champion, boxing fans clamor for a rematch. But Rocky, having sustained massive injuries in the bout, announces his retirement. Though he tries to make a new life for himself, Rocky realizes that he can't escape his true calling. The ring beckons once more, and the "Italian Stallion" must prepare for the fight of his life.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$6.390 million on 780 screens.
Domestic Gross
$85.182 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French DTS 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $99.98
Release Date: 11/3/2009

Bonus:
• None

Available As Part of “Rocky: The Undisputed Collection”

PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Rocky II: The Undisputed Collection [Blu-Ray] (1979)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 25, 2010)

Sometimes it’s not best to give the people what they want, a point that is proved succinctly in Rocky II. (Watch out - potential spoilers ahead!) Oh, it’s not like the original 1976 Rocky lacked crowd-pleasing elements. In fact, its rousing lack of cynicism may have contributed mightily to its success over the year’s more dour and hard-bitten releases.

Rocky grossed a ton of money, and it also won out at the Oscars, where it topped strong contenders like Network, Taxi Driver and All the President’s Men

Nonetheless, one aspect of the movie stuck in some people’s craws: Rocky loses the big fight. Many people - myself included - think the current ending is absolutely appropriate, as it fully supports the old contention that it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Rocky’s tough stance during this defeat was something of a moral victory as it showed how the little guy can come out okay after all.

Still, although the ending made perfect sense within the film’s context, some folks were disappointed that Rocky didn’t emerge totally victorious. These are the same people who probably feel that 1979’s Rocky II is the better movie of the pair. In fact, it’s vastly inferior to the original, but since it delivers the desired happy finale.

Some have accused RII of being a virtual remake of the original, and those comments aren’t too far off base, though there obviously are quite a few differences. Nonetheless, the sequel tries awfully hard to put Rocky back in the position of hopeless underdog, something it never really achieves.

The early parts of RII are the most compelling. The movie starts with the conclusion of the prior film; again we see Rocky’s (Sylvester Stallone) near-victory against boxing champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). From there we find out where Rocky’s life goes as he deals with his newfound celebrity. Unfortunately, he quickly runs out of economic options, and since his injured right eye makes it risky for him to box - one wrong punch and he could go blind - it looks like Rocky’s back to being a bum, just like in the first film.

I enjoyed the brief look at Rocky’s flirtation with success, but once the movie puts him back in the position of underdog, it quickly sinks into a tepid series of clichés. Clearly writer/director Stallone - who would also helm the following two sequels before Rocky director John G. Avildsen returned for the fifth film - wanted badly to put Rocky back into the role of lovable loser, and the movie strains to do so. It never seems convincing, and no parts of the flick made it work.

Much of the problem stemmed from the superficial presentation of the main characters. The original film was really about all sorts of people who’d struggled through life and never been able to achieve their goals. Rocky himself just acted as the stand-in for anyone who’d felt less successful than they’d like to be. Except for champion Creed and his camp, all of the main participants bordered on the dregs of society, and the movie let them stand up for themselves and have their day on top.

Rocky II should have been better able to explore the nuances of these characters. The first movie introduced them, so the sequel should have been able to expand on their personalities. Instead, they’re all reduced to caricatures of their old selves, and no new dimensions are added. Rocky’s girl Adrian (Talia Shire) is nothing more than a token babe in the sequel, and her brother Paulie (Burt Young) simply redoes his loudmouth shtick from the first movie. Trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith) loses all humanity and becomes a gruff screamer with reason to exist other than to shout at Rocky.

As Rocky, Stallone at least kept within the stumblebum nature of the original character - a tone that would disappear beneath the actor’s vanity in the sequels - but otherwise the sequel’s star has little in common with the original character. Stallone keeps Rocky likeable - another dimension that would disappear in the later sequels - but he lacks the warmth and the charm that we saw in the first film. Instead, he feels like a cardboard impersonation of the old Rocky; I didn’t dislike him, but I didn’t really care about him either.

Virtually all of Rocky II seemed like a cheap knock-off of the original. They added superior production values and gave it a happier ending, but otherwise it’s the same old song and dance, just without equal levels of spirit and conviction. The climactic fight scene lasts longer than in the first film, but it appears less substantial, as the razzle-dazzle lacked grit and depth. In the original, the bout was a war, but here it’s just a show.

Add to that some plot twists that verge into soap opera territory and you have a less-than-successful sequel. Make no mistake - Rocky II isn’t a terrible movie. It offers some entertaining sequences, and it looks quite good when compared to some of the other sequels. However, on the heels of a movie as charming as Rocky, the first sequel is a big disappointment. Stallone wanted to have his cake and eat it too, and the result is a movie that can be interesting but that never becomes fulfilling.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus F

Rocky II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While some real strengths emerged here, too many problems affected the presentation.

Source flaws were by far the biggest concern. Specks and marks cropped up throughout the movie and created nearly constant distractions. These could’ve been heavier, but they still popped up awfully frequently and made the film dirty.

Sharpness usually seemed quite good. A few sequences came across as mildly soft, but these were exceptions, as the majority of the film provided a nicely crisp and detailed image. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent.

Colors seemed strong. The film utilized a fairly restricted palette since the movie’s Philadelphia setting didn’t lend itself to a lot of bright hues, but the tones appeared clean and rich. Reds especially came across well, as could be noted through some of Adrian’s clothing. Black levels were also pretty deep, a factor witnessed in Rocky’s leather attire, but shadow detail was a bit bland and vague. Low light situations never seemed terribly heavy, but they appeared a little thick and lifeless. Much of the film really looked quite good, but the prevalence of print flaws made this one a “C+” presentation.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Rocky II was above average for its era. The soundfield appeared modest but acceptable for this kind of film. The forward spectrum showed decent breadth as music presented fair stereo separation, and minor effects elements spread across the front channels. These resulted in some mild atmospherics that also seemed to blend together in a fairly pleasing manner, but there wasn’t a great deal of life to be heard, at least not until the climactic fight.

That sequence was really the only time that the surrounds played a fairly significant role in the mix. During the bout, the rear speakers added a nice element of involvement as the crowd noise got me into the match. Otherwise the surrounds mostly contributed musical reinforcement and general ambience without a great deal of activity.

Audio quality appeared adequate for the film’s era. Dialogue seemed mildly thin for the most part, but the speech remained acceptably natural and always came across as intelligible with few elements of edginess to be heard. Effects also seemed somewhat flat and drab, but they lacked distortion and appeared modestly realistic. Music displayed too much mid-range, though some low-end kicked in from time to time and the track portrayed the score in a reasonably clear manner. Ultimately, the whole mix suffered from a case of the blahs, but it worked well for an effort from the late Seventies.

Less satisfying were the disc’s extras. What do we find? Nothing – the Blu-ray lacks even a trailer. This is at least the film’s third release on some form of digital disc; couldn’t they finally have created some decent supplements for it?

A nice mix of extras certainly would have made Rocky II more appealing, as the movie itself didn’t do much for me. Oh, it’s a fairly entertaining piece of fluff, but it lacks any form of depth or drama. All it represents is a happier version of the first movie. The Blu-ray provides positive sound but comes with a dirty transfer and virtually no extras. Serious fans of the series will want to give Rocky II a look, but otherwise I think it’s not a terribly worthwhile endeavor.

Note that the Rocky II Blu-ray appears only as part of “The Undisputed Collection”. The seven-disc set also includes the other five movies in the series as well as a “Bonus Disc”. Rocky and 2006’s Rocky Balboa can be purchased individually, but as of late 2009, the second through fifth movies can solely be found in “The Undisputed Collection”.

To rate this film visit the Anthology Edition review of ROCKY II

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